Pope Francis today issued his official response to October’s ‘Amazon Synod’, which discussed a plan to ordain married men in the region. He was expected to endorse it and thus open the door for the ordination of married men throughout the whole Catholic Church. (It’s already permitted in Eastern-rite Churches.)
Instead, his apostolic exhortation ignores the subject. The Pope has ‘rejected the proposal’, reports CNN disapprovingly. It adds:
‘The lack of an opening for married priests, or women deacons, is expected to disappoint the Pope’s liberal supporters, particularly in the Americas and Europe.
“People are starting to adjust their expectations,” said Massimo Faggioli, a church historian at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “The major reforms they were expecting of him may never come”.’
‘Expected to disappoint’ is putting it mildly. The precise ramifications of the new document, Querida Amazonia, are difficult to judge – but then that’s always the case with Francis’s flowery and evasive official pronouncements. Vatican analyst Fr Raymond de Souza today suggested that it leaves open the possibility of ‘back-door approval’ of married priests when the media aren’t paying attention.
But the media are paying attention right now and reaching for the obvious headline: Pope says no to married priests. And that is unendurable for his hardline liberal supporters, such as Faggioli.
The only thing we can say for certain about Querida Amazonia is that the Pope has thrown his professional sycophants under the bus. They shouldn’t really be surprised. Throughout his career, every time Jorge Bergoglio has heard the rumble of the Number 11 approaching he’s looked for someone else to nudge into its path.